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Hercules statue unveiled on North Uist

The statue of Hercules the bear (centre)

The statue of Hercules the bear (centre)

A large wooden sculpture of Hercules - a bear that evaded capture in the Outer Hebrides - has been unveiled.

The statue has been erected in North Uist, the island where he went on the run, sparking a massive land, air and sea search.

For 24 days, the bear evaded the army, police and hundreds of volunteer searchers who scoured the hills and moors after he took off when swimming in the sea in August 1980.

Hercules, owned by Andy and Maggie Robin, was starring in an Andrex advert being filmed on Benbecula when he disappeared.

Fears the bear would kill to stave off hunger saw petrified islanders refusing to venture out after dark. Some villagers stacked furniture against their doors to avoid being hunted down.

Brothers Alasdair and Ronald Iain Maclean eventually spotted Hercules on Alasdair’s croft in Balemartin, some 20 miles from where he escaped. Ronald Iain’s son was dispatched to drive to a phone box to raise the alarm.

The bear was shot with a tranquillizer dart from a helicopter and airlifted off the moor to Lochmaddy where ferry company Caledonian Macbryane gave him a lifetime ticket for free travel.

Hercules starred in Disney movies and in the James Bond movie Octopussy among a raft of TV appearances. He graced the cover of Time magazine and even met ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and ex-US President Ronald Reagan.

He died in died in February 2000.

Now Hercules’ memory lives on in the new life-like carved sculpture in Langass community woodlands in North Uist.

Urras an Craobh Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist Woodland Trust) is planting more broadleaf trees to attract birds, plants and insects to make the former Forestry Commission plantation an educational and recreational resource.

Hercules’ story brought international attention to the islands and the project by the local trust will tell the story to a new generation.

Mr Robin said he was hugely impressed with the statue.

He said: ”It’s brilliant. They’ve done a good job. Its bang on, it is just like Hercules and I am so happy.”

SEE ALSO:

When an 8ft bear escaped captivity on the Scottish island of Benbecula in 1980, it became worldwide news

 

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